The Bengal Land-Revenue Regulation, 1793
Bengal Regulation 2 of 1793
[1st May, 1793.]
A Regulation for abolishing the Courts of Mal Adalat or Revenue Courts, and transferring the trial of the suits which were cognizable in those Courts to the Courts of Diwani Adalat; and prescribing Rules for the conduct of the Board of Revenue and the Collectors.
1. Preamble. - In [* * * *] Bengal the greater part of the materials required for the numerous and valuable manufactures, and most of the other principal articles of export, are the produce of the lands : it follows that the commerce, and consequently the wealth of the country, must increase in proportion to the extension of its agriculture.
But it is not for commercial purposes alone that the encouragement of agriculture is essential to the welfare of these provinces.
The Hindus, who form the body of the people, are compelled, by the dictates of religion, to depend solely upon the produce of the lands for subsistence; and the generality of such of the lower orders of the natives as are not of that persuasion are, from habit or necessity, in a similar predicament.
The extensive failure or destruction of the crops that occasionally arises from drought or inundation is in consequence invariably followed by famine, the ravages of which are felt chiefly by the cultivators of the soil and the manufacturers, from whose labours the country derives both its subsistence and wealth.
Experience having evinced that adequate supplies of grain are not obtainable from abroad in seasons of scarcity, the country must necessarily continue subject to these calamities until the proprietors and cultivators of the lands shall have the means of increasing the number of the reservoirs, embankments and other artificial works, by which, to a great degree, the untimely cessation of the periodical rains may be provided against, and the lands protected from, inundation; and as a necessary consequence the stock of grain in the country at large shall always be sufficient to supply those occasional, but less extensive, deficiencies in the annual produce which may be expected to occur notwithstanding the adoption of the above precautions to obviate them.
To effect these improvements in agriculture, which must necessarily be followed by the increase of every article of produce, has accordingly been one of the primary objects to which the attention of the [Government] has been directed in its arrangements for the internal Government of these provinces.
As being the two fundamental measures essential to the attainment of it, the property in the soil has been declared to be vested in the landholders, and the revenue payable to Government from each estate has been fixed for ever.
These measures have at once rendered it the interest of the proprietors to improve their estates, and given them the means of raising the funds necessary for that purpose.
The property in the soil was never before formally declared to be vested in the landholders, nor were they allowed to transfer such rights as they did possess, or raise money upon the credit of their tenures, without the previous sanction of Government.
With respect to the public demand upon each estate, it was liable to annual or frequent variation at the discretion of Government.
The amount of it was fixed upon an estimate formed by the public officers of the aggregate of the rents payable by the raiyats or tenants for each bigha of land in cultivation, of which, after deducting the expenses of collection, ten-elevenths were usually considered as the right of the public and the remainder the share of the landholder.
Refusal to pay the sum required of him was followed by his removal from the management of his lands, and the public dues were either let in farm or collected by an officer of Government, and the above-mentioned share of the landholder, or such sum as special custom, or the orders of Government, might have fixed, was paid to him by the farmer or from the public treasury.
When the extension of cultivation was productive only of a heavier assessment, and even the possession of the property was uncertain, the hereditary landholder had little inducement to improve his estate, and moneyed men had no encouragement to embark their capital in the purchase or improvement of land, whilst not only the profit, but the security for the capital itself, was so precarious.
The same causes, therefore, which prevented the improvement of land depreciated its value.
Further measures, however, are essential to the attainment of the important object above stated.
All questions between Government and the landholders respecting the assessment and collection of the public revenue, and disputed claims between the latter and their raiyats, or other persons concerned in the collection of their rents, have hitherto been cognizable in the Courts of Mal Adalat or Revenue Courts.
The Collectors of the Revenue preside in these Courts as Judges, and an appeal lies from their decision to the Board of Revenue, and from the decrees of that Board to the Governor General in Council in the department of Revenue.
The proprietors can never consider the privileges which have been conferred upon them as secure, whilst the Revenue-officers are vested with these judicial powers.
Exclusive of the objections arising to these Courts from their irregular, summary, and often ex parte proceedings, and from the Collectors being obliged to suspend the exercise of their judicial functions whenever they interfere with their financial duties, it is obvious that, if the Regulations for assessing and collecting the public revenue are infringed, the Revenue-officers themselves must be the aggressors, and that individuals who have been wronged by them in one capacity can never hope to obtain redress from them in another.
Their financial occupations equally disqualify them for administering the laws between the proprietors of land and their tenants.
Other security, therefore, must be given to landed property and to the rights attached to it before the desired improvements in agriculture can be expected to be effected.
Government must divest itself of the power of infringing, in its executive capacity, the rights and privileges which, as exercising the legislative authority, it has conferred on the landholders.
The Revenue-officers must be deprived of their judicial powers.
All financial claims of the public, when disputed under the Regulations, must be subjected to the cognizance of Courts of Judicature, superintended by Judges who, from their official situations and the nature of their trusts, shall not only be wholly uninterested in the result of their decisions, but bound to decide impartially between the public and the proprietors of land, and also between the latter and their tenants.
The Collectors of the Revenue must not only be divested of the power of deciding upon their own acts, but rendered amenable for them to the Courts of Judicature, and collect the public dues subject to a personal prosecution for every exaction exceeding the amount which they are authorized to demand on behalf of the public, and for every deviation from the Regulations prescribed for the collection of it.
No power will then exist in the country by which the rights vested in the landholders by the Regulations can be infringed or the value of landed property affected.
Land must, in consequence, become the most desirable of all property, and the industry of the people will be directed to those improvements in agriculture which are as essential to their own welfare as to the prosperity of the State.
The following rules, being the rules passed for the guidance of the Collectors and the Board of Revenue, on the 8th June, 1787, and the 25th April, 1788, with alterations adapted to the principles above stated, have been accordingly enacted.
2. Abolition of Courts of Mal Adalat. - Repealed by Act 12 of 1873.
3. Collectors of Revenue. - The collection of the revenue payable to Government from the estates in each zila is to be committed, as heretofore, to a civil covenanted servant of the Company, who is to be styled Collector of the Revenue of the zila to which he may be appointed [* * *].
4. Collectors subject to Board of Revenue. - The Collectors are to correspond with the Board of Revenue, and to conform to all instructions with which they have been furnished by that Board, and that are or may not be altered or revoked by this or any other Regulation [* * * *] , and also to all instructions which the Board of Revenue may hereafter transmit to them.
5. Seals of Collectors. - The Collectors of the several zilas are to use a circular seal one inch and-a-half in diameter.
The seals of the Collectors in [West Bengal] [and Orissa] are to bear an inscription to the following effect, in the [West Bengal] [* *] characters and [language] , [and the seals of the Collectors in Bihar a similar inscription, in the [* * *] Hindustani language and Nagri character]: "The seal of the Collector of the zila of....."
6. Collectors to keep diary. - The Collectors are to keep a regular diary of their official transactions either in the English [* *] or Bengali language, recording and attesting them with their official signature at the time they may take place.
7. Duties of Collectors. - The duties prescribed in the following section are to be performed by the Collectors, under the superintendence of the Board of Revenue.
8. Nature of duties. - First. - To collect the amount of the fixed revenue assessed upon the land of the zamindars, independent talukdars or other actual proprietors of land with or on behalf of whom a settlement has been or may be concluded.
Second. - To collect the stipulated annual revenue from the farmers of estates let in farm.
Third. - To levy the rents and revenue from estates held khas.
Fourth. - To make the future settlement of khas or farmed estates, agreeably to the regulations and instructions which they may receive for that purpose.
Fifth. - To prosecute for the recovery of the dues of Government from lands, of whatever description, held exempt from the payment of revenue under illegal or invalid tenures.
Sixth. - To pay the pensions and allowances included in the public revenue and the pensions and compensations granted in consequence of the abolition of the sair.
Seventh. - To execute the instructions which may be issued to them by the Court of Wards regarding disqualified landholders and their estates.
Eighth. - To superintend the division of landed property paying revenue to Government which may be ordered to be divided into two or more distinct estates.
Ninth. - To apportion the public revenue on lands ordered to be disposed of at public sale for the discharge of arrears of revenue.
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Thirteenth. - To perform the above, and all other duties, according to the rules that have been or may be prescribed to them [* * * *]
Fourteenth. - To transmit such annual, monthly or other accounts as they now furnish, or may be hereafter required to send by the Board of Revenue, or any officer under that Board empowered to require such accounts.
Fifteenth. - To conform to all special orders that have been or may be issued to them by the Board of Revenue, or by public officers empowered to issue such orders.
9. Officers to obey orders of Collector. - [* * *] All [*] officers under the Collector are to act agreeably to his orders and such rules as he may prescribe.
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10. Collectors not to employ private servants in public matters. - The Collectors are prohibited from employing, directly or indirectly, their private servants, whether baniyas or others, in the discharge of any part of their public duties, it being required that, in all matters relating to the trust committed to them, they act as the only empowered agents of Government.
This prohibition, however, is not meant to restrict them from occasionally employing their assistants [* * *] or their inferior public servants in the cases and in the manner in which they are authorised to make use of their agency.
11. Appointment and removal of Native cashkeepers. - Omitted by the Government of India (Adaptation of Indian Laws) Order, 1937.
12. Form to be observed in issuing public money. - Repealed by Act 25 of 1854.
13. Appointment and removal of Native servants. - Omitted by the Government of India (Adaptation of Indian Laws) Order, 1937.
14. In absence of Collector, senior Assistant to officiate. - In the event of the death or removal of a Collector or of his absence from his station, the senior Assistant on the spot is to perform the duties of Collector [* *] and public officers of the Collectorship are accordingly to obey his orders.
15. Collectors and their officers prohibited being concerned extra-officially in revenues. - No Collector, Assistant [* *] to a Collector, or any [person] in the employ of a Collector or of an Assistant, shall hold, directly or indirectly, any farm, or be concerned on their private account in the collection or payment of the revenue of any lands in the zila, either as farmer, surety or otherwise; and [*] officers and private servants and dependents of Collectors and Assistants are prohibited from purchasing, directly or indirectly, any land that the Collector may dispose of at public sale, under the penalty of forfeiting the property to Government, upon proof being made, to the satisfaction of the [State] Government of the property having been so purchased.
16. Bona fide purchases of land at private sale by Collector's officers, etc. - The rules in the preceding section, however, are not to be considered to prohibit [an officer] of a Collector, or any private servant of a Collector or of an Assistant, from purchasing bona fide the proprietary right in lands situated in the zila, by private sale.
17. Prohibition against giving land to Europeans. - Repealed by Act 8 of 1868.
18. Collectors and their Assistants prohibited from trading. - Omitted by the Government of India (Adaptation of Indian Laws) Order, 1937.
19. Diwans prohibited from lending money to proprietors of land. - Repealed by Act 12 of 1873.
20. Collector to keep records. - The Collectors are to be careful that the accounts and records of their respective zilas are kept complete and duly preserved.
21, 22. Rules for rendering zilas compact, and prohibition against employing sepoys in collection of revenue. - Repealed by Act 16 of 1874.
23. Restriction on advances of takavi. - Repealed by Act 26 of 1871.
24. Collectors not to exercise authority beyond limits of their zilas without orders. - The Collectors are prohibited deputing any person into the zila of any other Collector, or exercising any authority beyond the limits of their respective zilas, excepting in cases in which they may be authorised so to do [* * * *] by special orders from a competent authority.
25. Rule with regard to receipts. - The Collectors are to give monthly receipts for all payments of revenue into their treasuries, specifying the date or dates on which the money may be received [* * *].
The keepers of the [*] records are to keep a register of these receipts regularly numbered.
After having registered the receipts they are to attest on the face of them the date on which they may be registered.
A copy of this register is to be transmitted monthly to the Board of Revenue, or as often as the Board may require.
A similar register of receipts is to be kept by all tahsildars, sazawals or other [*] officers entrusted with the immediate collection of the public revenue, and a copy of it is to be transmitted to the Collector monthly or as often as he may require.
26. Register of receipts for salaries, etc. - The monthly or other receipts, for salaries, pensions or allowances, of whatever kind, which may be paid by the Collectors, are to be deposited amongst the public records of their respective zilas, and a register of them is to be kept by the keepers of the [*] records [* * *].
27. Collectors resigning or removed not to quit station without sanction. - Repealed by Act 14 of 1874.
28, 29. Collectors to be subordinate to a Board of Revenue; its constitution. - Repealed by Regn. 3 of 1822.
30 to 32. Power of Board over officers under them, and rules regarding deputations. - Repealed by Act 16 of 1874.
33. In what case Board may require personal attendance of officers. - The Board of Revenue are empowered to require the personal attendance of any proprietor or farmer of land or any dependent talukdar, under-farmer or raiyat, or any [* * *] officer employed under a Collector, for the purpose of adjusting any settlement, or examining any accounts, or inquiring into any matter coming within their cognizance, provided the personal attendance of the party shall appear to them indispensably necessary.
In such cases the Board are to direct the Collectors to serve such person with a written notice under his official seal and signature, specifying the business on account of which his attendance is judged necessary, and requiring him to attend the Board by such period as they may limit, under pain of being subject to such daily fine until, he attends, or shows satisfactory cause for his non-attendance, as the Board may think proper to impose.
The Board are empowered to fine such persons neglecting to appear by the time required, in such amount as may appear to them proper upon a consideration of the case and the situation and circumstances in life of the party, and the amount of the fine shall be levied by the Collector, by the process prescribed for the recovery of arrears of revenue.
But the Board of Revenue are prohibited requiring the personal attendance of any person in cases in which the business can be transacted by a vakil.
34, 35. Execution of Board's orders, and powers of Members. - Repealed by Regn. 3 of 1822.
36. Powers of Board as to settlement of lands held khas. - The Board of Revenue are empowered to issue orders to their subordinate officers for making the settlement of lands that are or may be khas, in conformity to the Regulations and any special instructions which may be prescribed to them by the [State] Government.
37. Security for payment of revenue. - In all cases of a settlement being made with or on behalf of zamindars, independent talukdars or other actual proprietors of land, their lands are to be deemed sufficient security for the payment of the revenue.
But, where lands are let in farm, a malzamin, or surety for the punctual discharge of the revenue, is to be invariably required.
38. Remissions. - No remissions upon the settlement of a preceding year, nor any remissions whatsover, are to be required by the Board without the sanction of the [State] Government.
39. Settlements to be made by Collectors. - It is to be observed as a general principle that the settlement of lands that are or may be khas is to be made by the Collectors under the regulations and the instructions of the Board of Revenue.
But if the Board should deem a special deputation of one of their members, or of any other person, necessary to form the settlement of any such lands, they are to propose the measure to the [State] Government with their reasons for recommending it.
40. Procedure on settlement being concluded. - Upon a settlement being concluded with any proprietor or farmer, conformably to the Regulations, the Board of Revenue are to issue the usual bandabasti parwana to the proprietor or farmer, without applying to the [State] Government for [its] sanction for that purpose.
41. Collection of revenue. - The collection of the revenue is committed to the Collectors; but the Board of Revenue are to see that the revenues are realized by the stipulated periods, or that solid and satisfactory reasons are assigned by the Collectors for any delay or deficiency.
The power of coercion over the proprietors and farmers of land is also vested in the Collectors, as prescribed in Regulation 14, 1793.
42. Temporary suspensions. - The Board are authorized to grant temporary suspensions of the demands of revenue whenever it may appear to them indispensably necessary, reporting the sum suspended, without delay to the [State] Government, with their reasons for the measure. But they are not to grant any suspensions beyond the current year.
43. Remissions of balances. - No remissions of balances are to be granted without the special authority of the [State] Government.
44. Accounts to be furnished to Governor General. - Repealed by Act 26 of 1871.
45. Duty of Board to furnish accounts, etc. - The Board of Revenue are to furnish the [State] Government with such annual, monthly or other accounts as they now are or may be required to submit to [it].
They are likewise to observe all special orders which they have received or may receive from the [State] Government.
46, 47. Prohibitions to be observed by Board, and acknowledgement for places restored to foreign powers. - Repealed by Act 16 of 1874.
48. Separate accounts of expenses for reducing rebellious zamindars and others. - Repealed by Act 3 of 1822.
49 to 70. Rules for conducting the business of Board, and powers of President. - Repealed by Act 3 of 1822.